50th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Mission

Fifty years ago, Neil Armstrong – an alumnus of Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana – became the first man to set foot on the moon as millions of people watched from their television sets.

A few interesting facts about that mission, from NASA:

  • The primary objective of Apollo 11 was to complete a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961: perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth.
  • An estimated 650 million people watched Armstrong's televised image and heard his voice describe the event as he took "...one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind" on July 20, 1969.
  • Commemorative medallions bearing the names of the three Apollo 1 astronauts who lost their lives in a launch pad fire, and two cosmonauts who also died in accidents, were left on the moon's surface. A one-and-a-half inch silicon disk, containing micro miniaturized goodwill messages from 73 countries, and the names of congressional and NASA leaders, also stayed behind.
  • Armstrong and Aldrin spent 21 hours, 36 minutes on the moon's surface.

This month, the world celebrates the 50th anniversary of this historic moon landing.

Join the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites in a number of experiences and programs offered around the state where you’ll see a piece of the moon, chat with experts, and gaze up at the moon that Neil Armstrong first stepped on 50 years ago.

A real piece of the moon

In the Birth of the Earth gallery, see a real piece of rock collected from the Taurus Littrow Valley, accompanied by an Indiana state flag that was flown to space in the same mission that collected this dark colored rock. To keep this precious specimen safe, it is contained in a sealed container with a special gas inside, is under constant surveillance and cannot be moved without permission from NASA.
Date: Part of our permanent collection; on view any time the museum is open
Location: Indiana State Museum
Price: Included with purchase of general admission. Buy museum tickets online and save $1 per ticket. Get tickets >>

Space exploration for your little ones

Small Wonders is a monthly program that builds your child’s sense of wonder and playfulness as they engage in storytelling, hands-on activities, music, movement and art. At this month's, Small Wonders: Space Exploration, your little one will explore space and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing. After an interactive story time, we will engineer our own rockets to launch, create a starry masterpiece, and practice our astronaut skills. Other activities include a space sensory experience and making our own constellations. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Date: July 10 and July 13, 10 to 11 a.m.
Location: Indiana State Museum
Who would enjoy this program?
 Children ages 3 - 5
Price: $9/members, $12/non-members
Tickets: Member tickets | Non-member tickets | Call 317.232.1637 | At the door

Astronauts in training

Young Explorers allows little ones to be big kids during these 90-minute drop-off classes that encourage creativity, exploration and independence in an environment that fosters curiosity and imagination. During Young Explorers: Astronauts in Training, your child will launch rockets and discover planets and stars. They will create and launch rockets, test their astronaut skills, and discover planets and stars. Other activities include an exhibit adventure, sensory moon play and an interactive story time. Children may attend this class on their own.
Date: July 13, 1 to 2:30 p.m.
Location: Indiana State Museum
Who would enjoy this program? Children ages 4 - 6
Price: $10/members, $13/non-members
Tickets: Member tickets | Non-member tickets | Call 317.232.1637 | At the door

Free space-themed activities on the canal

Celebrate summer nights on the canal with free activities and family fun. Join us for Canal Nights: To the Moon! for space-related activities and to discover some of the next steps for humans in space. Members will also enjoy special activities just for them.
July 17, 6 to 8 p.m.
Location: Indiana State Museum
Who would enjoy this program? Families with youth and children
Price: Free

Family space day

Celebrate the “giant leap for mankind” during Family Discovery Day: Apollo 11. Design and launch your own rocket, learn to land spacecraft, and explore the geology of the moon. 
July 20, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Indiana State Museum
Who would enjoy this program?
 Families with youth and children
Price: Included with purchase of general admission. Buy museum tickets online and save $1 per ticket. Get tickets >>

Stargazing and night hike

Join a naturalist for a guided night hike through Sower’s Woods and discover creatures of the night. See if you can spot bats, owls, moths and other animals. Then, identify constellations, satellites and other celestial bodies through a high-powered telescope from the Fort Wayne Astronomical Society, or bring your own binoculars.
July 27, 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Gene Stratton-Porter State Historic Site
Who would enjoy this program? Adults and youth
$4/members, $5/non-members
Tickets: Purchase tickets at the door.

Madison’s first space academy

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing by becoming a cadet at the Lanier Frontier, Madison’s first space academy. Explore space through hands-on activities and learn about Hoosier astronauts. Plus, check out the stars in a digitarium.
Date: July 27, 1 to 7 p.m.
Lanier Mansion State Historic Site
Who would enjoy this program? Adults and youth
$3/youth members (ages 3-17), $11/adult members (ages 18+); $5/youth non-members (ages 3-17), $13/adult non-members (ages 18+); free for children younger than age 3
Tickets: Purchase tickets in advance by calling 812.265.3526, or at the door.

Never-before-seen footage from the Apollo 11 mission

APOLLO 11: First Steps Edition is a thrilling cinematic experience that showcases the real-life moments of humankind’s first steps on the moon. In this special edition created exclusively for IMAX® and giant screen theaters in science centers and museums of Todd Douglas Miller’s critically acclaimed Apollo 11 documentary, the filmmakers reconstruct the exhilarating final moments of preparation, liftoff, landing and return of this historic mission—one of humanity’s greatest achievements and the first to put men on the moon. With a newly-discovered trove of never-before-seen 70mm footage and audio recordings, APOLLO 11: First Steps Edition joins Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins, the Mission Control team and millions of spectators around the world, during those momentous days and hours in 1969 when humankind took a giant leap into the future. Watch Trailer See show times
Date: Now through August
Location: IMAX Theater at the Indiana State Museum

Purdue University offers a variety of events and resources recognizing its role in educating Neil Armstrong and other astronauts, and NASA provides additional information, photos and videos about its Apollo program as well as a list of events hosted around the country.

Fun fact: Were you surprised that the quote in the top banner of this page includes a word you may not have heard before? "That's one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind." According to NASA:

[At the time of the mission, the world heard Neil say "That's one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind". As Andrew Chaikin details in A Man on the Moon, after the mission, Neil said that he had intended to say 'one small step for a man' and believed that he had done so. However, he also agreed that the 'a' didn't seem to be audible in the recordings. The important point is that the world had no problem understanding his meaning. However, over the decades, people interested in details of the mission - including your editor - have listened repeatedly to the recordings, without hearing any convincing evidence of the 'a'. In 2006, with a great deal of attendant media attention, journalist/ entrepreneur Peter Shann Ford claimed to have located the 'a' in the waveform of Neil's transmission. Subsequently, more rigorous analyses of the transmission were undertaken by people with professional experience with audio waveforms and, most importantly, audio spectrograms. None of these analyses support Ford's conclusion. The transcription used above honors Neil's intent.]